Oh, this is such a fantastic holiday! It’s National Guacamole Day, celebrating that creamy, spicy, super-delicious avocado spread that’s taken over the nation. I love guac in all its forms, be it store-bought or homemade. It’s incredibly easy to make yourself, and every cook’s recipe is just slightly different to model their individual tastes. (The weirdest thing I’ve ever seen was a “guacamole kit” in the produce section of Trader Joe’s. Do you REALLY need instructions on how to make guacamole?) The idea of an avocado-based sauce or spread like guacamole originated with the Aztecs in Mexico, sometime in the 16th century. Traditionally, guac is just made with two ingredients: ripe avocados, which are mashed with a stone mortar and pestle, and sea salt. The recipes have become more complicated and refined since then, with many preparations calling for diced tomatoes, onion, lime juice, chili, and cilantro. It’s been popular in the United States as a party dip since the 1940s, and, unsurprisingly, is at the most popular on Super Bowl Sunday and Cinco De Mayo. Over 30 million avocadoes are sold in the United States on those two days alone! Now that’s what I call a lot of guac!
There are a ton of Mexican restaurants serving up guacamole all over the boroughs, with a wide range of flavors, heats, and qualities, so you do have to be careful where you get your guac fix! Since avocadoes brown and get unpalatable very quickly after they’re peeled, look for a restaurant that serves their guac made fresh when you order it. And all the better if it’s prepared in the traditional style, made with a mortar and pestle! And you can definitely count on Tortillerria Nixtamal to have the freshest and highest quality ingredients, making for the best traditional guacamole around. Although they’re best known for their masa–finely ground cornmeal–that’s coveted by Mexican restaurants all over the city, you can still sit down for a delicious, inexpensive Mexican meal here in Corona. Order their guacamole as its own side dish or as a condiment to your corn tortilla tacos, and you won’t be disappointed. Everything here is made fresh with local, natural ingredients, including the all-corn tortillas–made from the masa they grind themselves. High-end Manhattan restaurants only wish they could get the kind of food quality–and the kind of loyal fanbase!–that Tortillerria Nixtamal has. They’ve even been spotlighted on the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” for their tacos! If you really want to try some of the best old-school guac in the city, you’ve got to head out here!
104-05 47th Ave, Corona
“The congenial, busy owners of this Mexican joint make their own fresh masa (corn dough) from grain soaked and ground on-site. This means tacos of spicy skate that’s been tucked into ethereal corn blankets for you, and for the kids—if the timing is right (try late morning or early afternoon)—the spectacle of a bright green machine spewing out tortillas. Once the show’s over, grab a table and share a mound of guac and chips, delicate mole-bathed chicken enchiladas or fluffy, well-spiced tamales.”–Time Out New York Kids
“They make a really fresh guacamole. I was very impressed and the salsa verde and roja were both really good too. I didn’t like their corn chips though – I found them too hard, thick and crunchy. I actually loved eating the guacamole with their soft tortillas.”–The Restaurant Fairy
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Let’s start with the guac. It’s fresh, so fresh that the guacamole looks radioactive. The serving we had was loaded with tomatoes and paired with their fantastic semi-circle tortilla chips. What genius thought of this stupendous idea? The thought of going back to triangular chips seems utterly ridiculous now (it’s all about surface area!). Oh, and the crunch! These crispy babies are thick and make your typical chip feel wimpy, forever ruining your concept of what chips and dip should be.”–Anthony K.
“Hubby and I tried their guacamole, steak taco, shrimp taco and fish tacos. We absolutely LOVED the guacamole and would come here just for it! I loved the chips that were a bit too oily feeling but not too oily tasting. And the guacamole was just the right consistency and texture.”–Annie H.
Sure, Tortilleria Nixtamal makes a pretty mean traditional guacamole; but all of their foods are strictly traditional, and sometimes, you want a little variation to spice up your meal. Sometimes you need to shake up the classics! And Toloache in the Theater District does just that. As an appetizer at this high-end Mexican restaurant, you can order their trio of guacs for $24 to try something completely new. It consists of a mild traditional guac, made with tomatoes, onions, and serrano peppers; a spicy “rojo” guac that is tinted red from all the tomatoes, red onions, and chipotle peppers added to the mix; and the guac from left field, the “frutas,” which includes pomegranates, mangoes, apples, peaches, and habanero peppers. Sounds more like a fruit salad than a guacamole to me! But it comes highly recommended by a bevy of food critics, including writers from the Village Voice and the New York Times. And you can bet that a swanky place like Toloache makes their guacamole fresh so it doesn’t brown on you: they’re so dedicated to freshness that their chefs make the guacamole in the center of the restaurant, at a ceviche and guacamole bar, so diners can literally watch the guac magic happen. This is definitely a far cry from your mom’s Super Bowl guacamole recipe, and you can see it in every aspect: the ingredients, the execution, and the presentation. Yum!
251 W 50th St (between 8th Ave & Broadway)
“It is one of the great treats of the theater district, up there with bumping into Laura Benanti in front of Joe Allen: the chunky guacamole with apple, pear and jalapeño that the chef Julian Medina serves at his marvelous little Mexican joint on 50th Street. Just add margaritas.”–The New York Times
“”Our guacamoles are one of the most popular menu items at Toloache,” says Medina. “Watching the guacamole being made at the central ceviche and guacamole bar really adds to the total dining experience.””–The Village Voice
“This high-class nuevo Mexicana eatery does a three-guac tasting. There’s the traditional, mild cilantro-spiked version, a frutas variation with pomegranate, peach and Thai basil, and a spicy chipolte-infused rojo. Tasters say it’s the best in the city.”–CBS New York
“Chef-partner Julian Medina’s menu skips around Mexico and beyond with a trio of guacamoles mashed to order at the bar, a fabulous organic huevos rancheros, suckling pig from the brick oven, and fine Veracruz-style paella with a foie gras detour. I have doubts about guacamole with mango, apple, peach, habanero and Thai basil, but our fussy eaters like it.”–New York Magazine
“The guacamole, which is also available at the original Toloache (but not Toloache Taqueria), gets its rust-colored hue from chopped tomatoes, minced red onion, and pureed chipotle peppers, which also give the guac a faint spicy smokiness. A sprinkling of queso fresco completes the dish, just like snow on the mountaintop.”–The Village Voice
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“My friend and I started with the fruit guacamole which came with pomegranate seeds scattered throughout. I loved the addition of pomegranate seeds (who would’ve thought?) but wish the guacamole had a bit more heat. They do provide more than enough chips though, always a nice touch.”–Michelle S.
“The guacamole was hearty and delicious filled with different flavors and vegetables, really had that homemade touch to it. Guacamole and chips alone, dangerous combo, so don’t fill up on it before the rest of your meal! All in all a filling meal.”–Rich K.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!